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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Zugbruecke ausser Betrieb: Die Mathematik im Jenseits der Kultur---Eine Aussenansicht" ("Drawbridge Out of Order: Mathematics Outside of Culture---An Outsider's View"), by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29 August 1998. In German.

Written by the noted German poet and cultural observer Hans Magnus Enzensberger, this essay explores the odd place mathematics occupies in the general culture. Despite the usefulness and beauty of mathematics, most people recoil when confronted with the subject. In trying to understand this phenomenon, Enzensberger presents an affectionate but unsparing portrait of mathematicians, who, he notes, are not especially effective at promoting their discipline. He also points to the educational system as one of the sources of the belief that mathematics is a boring and lifeless subject. This essay has been published as a booklet by AK Peters, with the original German and and English translation side by side, under the title "Drawbridge Up".

--- Allyn Jackson